RESEARCH NOTES ON PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE COLLECTION AT THE KINSEY INSTITUTE, BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA

 
 
 

RESEARCH NOTES ON PHYSIQUE CULTURE PHOTOGRAPHS AND MAGAZINES FROM THE COLLECTION AT THE KINSEY INSTITUTE, BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA.

 
This section includes my research notes on the physique culture photographs held in the collection at the Kinsey Institute by the photographers listed below. It also includes a description of early homosexual magazines held by the Kinsey Institute.

 

 

Please click on words below for links to subsections
and symbol next to heading to return to this table.

I.

Bruce of Los Angeles

II.

Douglas: Detroit

III.

Dick Falcon

IV.

Melan

V.

Bob Mizer/Athletic Model Guild

VI.

Karl Eller

VII.

Anonymous

VIII.

Al Urban

IX.

Bob Mizer/Physique Pictorial

X.

Physique Culture and Early Homosexual Magazines

 

I. BRUCE OF LOS ANGELES

 

Image No. 52001. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1942-50. Acquired 1950.

Grey backdrop. Young man, nude, about 19, with curly wavy blond hair leaning back with arms behind back. Smooth, toned body with tattoo of owl. Good dick sticking straight out with big fat erection. Young man is looking into camera. Diffused (soft box?) lighting. Doesn't hide his face to hide his identity - quite open towards camera.

Image No. 52002. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1942-50. Acquired 1950.

Same young man/backdrop. Radio and curtain to right. Carpet floor. Interior of house so shoot not done in the studio. Dressed in sailors uniform with white cap on. Big hands, crossed and clasping each in front of him. Slight shadow on backdrop.

Image No. 52003. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1942-50. Acquired 1950.

Same young man/backdrop, nude, reading a newspaper while being sucked off by an older man dressed in white shirt with cufflinks, stripped trousers, black socks. Young man wears only socks and lace up shoes, watch on left arm, bracelet on right arm. Must be tungsten lighting because boys upper body is slightly blurred.

Image No. 52004. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1942-50. Acquired 1950.

Same young man, backdrop. Frontal pose, with hands behind back. Limp, cut dick. Staring straightinto camera. Tattoo of hearts and word 'mom' visible of left bicep. Wearing black socks and shoes.

 

Unusual in that this series shows erections and sexual activity within a specific context and environment (the home) and between an older and younger man. Also unusual is that these photographs are by a physique photographer, obviously not for publication but for private consumption. These are the only photographs that I found during research at The Kinsey Institute taken by a physique photographer that were explicitly sexual in nature.

 

Image No. 52005. Bruce of Los Angeles. Acquired 1966.

Young man, dark hair, wearing white posing pouch leaning against tree, one arm behind him holding tree, other raised behind his head. Long grass around. Good arms, chest, stomach development. Must have been nearly midday as the shadow of his head is cast onto neck and upper chest. Eyes are closed and looking down, leaving body open for inspection/adoration without challenge of return gaze. Matt surface to print.

Image No. 52006. Bruce of Los Angeles. Acquired 1950. Annotation: Tom Matthews, 24 years old.

Older man, dark hair. Big pecs, arms, tanned, hairy arms and chest, looking down and away from camera. Nude; limp cut dick. Sitting on a pedestal which is on a raffia mat. Metal chain wrapped around both wrists which are crossed. Lighting seems to be from 2 sources - high right and mid-left.

 

Unusual in that this physique photograph shows an older, hairy man who is nude.

 

Image No. 52010. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1948. Numbered 7-12.

6 small (1.5" wide by 2" high) photographs of older (22-25?) muscleman posing outside near a stream with mountains in the background. Mounted on one piece of card. He wears white posing pouch and has big arms, chest, back. Real bodybuilder. Tattoo on right bicep.

Image No. 52011. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1948. Numbered 13-16.

Same guy as above now posing with an older blond well built man in 3 photographs mounted on one piece of card. Both posing in bathing trunks using fencing swords as props! Both very big men, arms, chest, lats, etc., ...

Image No. 52012. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1948. Numbered 17-20.

Blond man from above series posing alone but still with fencing sword. Again 3 photographs mounted on one piece of card. Same location used for all 3 series.

 

I think these photographs dispelled the myth that I had built up for myslef that all Bruce of Los Angeles photography was studio based.

 

Image No. 52017-20. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1950. Annotation: Lewis Tan, 21 years old and Tom Matthews, 24 years old.

Taken outdoors, full sunlight/shadow, mountains in background. Wrestling photographs using same raffia mat used in Image No. 52006. Quite erotic. Posed but usually only arms grasping each other. Not full body contact. Developed bodies, masculine, biceps straining, wearing posing pouches.

Image No. 52021-23. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1950? Annotation: Bert Elliot (stud), 20 years old and Hector De Hoyos, 19 years old.

Wrestling, beautiful action shots taken in sand dunes. Both are cute, have dark hair, smooth, tanned bodies and are wearing posing pouches. 8" x 10" prints. More full body to body contact in these photographs.

Image No. 52029. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1950. Annotation: Bulldog Football Team. All Married.

3 naked men with dark hair drying themselves after a shower. Bench with cigar a towel on foreground. Location shot using flash. Naturally hairy bigger bodies. Good photograph a la Diane Arbus mould.

Image No. 52062. Bruce of Los Angeles. 1950. Annotation: Dick Fowler 17 years old.

Nude, slim body, dark hair with cut dick standing on a beach in front of a water fountain. Typical ephebe. Pylons in background. Strange photograph.

 

II. DOUGLAS: DETROIT

 

Image No. 52068. Douglas photographer. Detroit. 1946. Annotation: Guy, age 28, Persian descent, Ht 5'10", Wt 165, skilled factory operator.

Hair over whole chest and abdomen has been shaved off. Posing in nude with trees in background. Triumphant pose with clenched fists.

 

Interesting to note that body hair has been shaved off before photo shoot. Douglas seems to have photographed a lot of Polish models from the images with annotations that I saw. His photographs seem to hark back to the more stylized 1930s era.

 

III. DICK FALCON

 

Image No. 52202. Models of Dick Falcon. Columbus, Ohio. NYC 1949.

2 blond (one slightly darker than the other) haired young men with smooth bodies, washboard abs, limp cut dicks. One young man is standing in water, one sitting on a log. 8" x 10" print.

Image No. 52206. Models of Dick Falcon. Columbus, Ohio. NYC 1949.

Same young men as in Image No. 52202. Looking away from camera, smooth, washboard abs, limp cut dicks standing in front of a fallen tree. Holding hands - not fully clasped hands but just resting there. Very sensitive photograph. They feel like lovers to me. Small photograph approx. 3" wide x 4" high. Very contrasty image. What definition the right hand boy has!! Long and lanky, slim and not big, really toned ephebe.

Image No. 52218. Models of Dick Falcon. Columbus, Ohio. NYC 1949.

Same young men as in Image No. 52202-6. Lighter blond haired young man is balanced on one shoulder of other young man.

Image No. 52229. Models of Dick Falcon. Columbus, Ohio. NYC 1949.

Same young men as in Image No. 52202-6. Lighter blond haired young man balanced on other man who is on all fours. Blond young man smiling with one arm raised in the air, looking at camera. Other boy looking away. Natural bodies, outdoors.

 

Strange set of photographs reminds me of later Diane Arbus photographs of nudist camp. Most of this photographers studio work harks back to a more stylized classical romantic tradition.

 

 

IV. MELAN

 

Image No. 52276. Melan. Numbered 298-306. NYC 1940.

Proof sheet of young man at waterfall wearing black posing pouch. Tall, beautiful face, abs for days, chest not that big, good arms. Great poses outdoors, sensitive - like to see enlargements! One lying on a rock in a crucifix position. One where he is sitting on edge of rock with feet in water - WOW! Not massively big but what a body and the small size of the images makes them all the more intriguing. One of the best bodies I've ever seen photographs of.

Image No. 54643. Anonymous. n.d. (possibly Melan). NYC 1946.

5" x 7" print off proof sheet above that I said was the most beautiful body that I'd ever seen! Bad print, bottom half of print loosing its tonality, fogging out. Still a magnificent body, really long legs, amazing stomach. By a waterfall, arms outstretched, cut dick. My attribution.

V. BOB MIZER/ATHLETIC MODEL GUILD

 

Bob Mizer set up AMG in 1945 to photograph male bodybuilders and it is now the oldest male model photography studio in the United States of America. All models in the photographs that I studied were well built, smooth, toned. Lots of outdoor shots! Models are usually quite young (18-22 approx.) Tiny waists and v shaped. For example Image No. 51820. 3 studio portraits of one smooth boy featuring twisted back, arms and torso to great effect. Total V shape. Lots of erotic wrestling photographs from AMG as well.

 

VI. KARL ELLER

 

Image No. 51844. Karl Eller. 1949. Annotation: Ex-German.

Unusual shot of male lying on stomach in sunlight/shadow with flowers in hair. Small photograph 5" wide x 3" high. Screen behind. Quite sensitive. More an art photograph that just a physique study?

Image No. 51846. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man, standing, back/side on, head turned so looking into camera. Private reflection/moments. Maybe the photographers lover? Flowers in hair reminder of Fred Holland Day's Dionysian photographs of ephebes.

Image No. 51848. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man looking to left, fontal nude. 2 screens behind, one covered with flowered wallpaper (dark), the other with a leaf design wallpaper (light).

Image No. 51850. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man in a reverie. Much more intimate than the usual physique photography.

Image No. 51852. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man in same positioning as Image No. 51848 but hand to mouth in a pensive mood.

Image No. 51853. Karl Eller. 1949.

Same young man by an open window, nude, uncut dick, sunlight falling on chest, flowers in hair. Head turned away from sun so in shadow. Looking down and not into camera. Must be about 18-20 years old.

 

This series is using the romantic ideal of the young ephebe. It is much more intimate than the usual physique photography images and I wonder what it is doing in this section of the archive? Present in The Kinsey Institute Collection were a lot more nude photographs of 'bodybuilders' than were published. To be honest, most physique photographers used stock standard poses across the board. An exception to this rule was one of the most interesting series of photographs in the Collection. It was taken by anonymous photographer and is described below.

 

VII. ANONYMOUS

 

Image No. 51901-20. Anonymous. n.d. Donated by RES. Acquired 1952-53

Fantastic series of studio photographs of several different bodies - some are built bodies and some are not. Black background, beautiful skin tones. Difference: Close up of different body parts. Butts, chests, arms, cut off heads, arms/legs, just sections ... in anticipation of Robert Mapplethorpe's deconstruction of the body in his nudes. Did he see some of these? Interesting thought! Very 'art' shots of buttocks, torsos. Very tonal like Edward Weston's nudes or Steiglitz in some of his nudes of Georgia O'Keefe.

Image No. 51912 shows close up of veins in arms and hair in armpit. 8" x 10" prints. The whole series is amazing!

 

VIII. AL URBAN

 

More studio set shots than outdoors. Use of black background or white background. Mainly nudes in The Kinsey Institute Collection. There is an occasional black nude (Image No. 53145 from 1949). Most prints are 8" x 10" but some, like Image No. 53145, are 3" x 7" approx.

Image No. 53247-8. Al Urban. 04/01/1949.

Two dark haired young men, 17 and 18, posing nude, both cut. Both have all over tans, arms on hips, looking at each other, laughing kind of - both bodies 'ripped' and toned like you wouldn't believe! Arms, pecs, 8 pak washboard stomachs, skinny legs. Not big built like a muscular mesomorph or bodybuilder but young men, toned and cut. Amazing definition.

 

IX. BOB MIZER/PHYSIQUE PICTORIAL

 

Image No. 52505-9. Bob Mizer. 1954. Annotation: Used by DA to show intent to exh pvt RCT.

Both 4" x 5" contacts and 8' x 10" enlargements. Series of 12 photographs confiscated by police and used in the 1954 court case by the District Attorney to show intent to exhibit partially erect. What happened in court case? Obviously the charge of exhibiting partially erect did not stick but Mizer lost then won on the obscenity of the male rump:

"Not long after the first issues of Physique Pictorial began appearing on the news-stands, the magazine drew the published comment of the columnist Paul Coates of the now defunct L.A. Mirror. Vice officers raided the AMG studio and a case was taken to court which Mizer lost. But the decision of an Appellate Court overturned the earlier ruling and declared that "the male rump is not necessarily obscene.""

Siebernand, P. The Beginnings of Gay Cinema in Los Angeles: The Industry and The Audience. Ann Harbor, Michigan: Xerox Microfilms International, 1975, pp.44 -45.

 

Although not showing nudes in publications such as Physique Pictorial, private photographs by Bob Mizer heavily feature nudity. Wide use made of projected backdrops - abstracts, leaves, mountains, ships, classical Roman ruins. 4" x 5" prints are much better than 8" x 10" enlargements. The Annotations on back of both size images tell of the models jobs and sexual orientation and what they will or will not do sexually if known. It is interesting to note that these annotations are usually the only thing that places the physical bodies in a social context. The studio shots really have no context while the outdoor shots have slightly more context. The annotations helps define the social and sexual structures within which the models circulated.

 

Image No. 52514. Bob Mizer. 1948. Annotation: Charles Brant, 20 years old. Tried suicide because wife refused to take him back.

4" x 5" contact. Tiled floor (dark), white drapes both sides. Dark fabric backdrop. Ephebe body, smooth, looking right and up and out of frame. Hands held palm upwards and curled fingers, elbows slightly out from sides. Like he'd just cut his arms, or pleading. Did the photographer pose this in an imitation of an attempted suicide? Strong shadow behind - tungsten or flash? Disturbing photograph.

Image No. 52740. Bob Mizer. 07/01/1952.

Great photograph of 3 bodybuilders at a contest. Left hand man seated looking off camera. Middle figure seated looking at figure behind both of them walking out of frame carrying huge trophy. Figure behind smirking at his prize!! To the right and back of photograph is a throne which is really symbolic. 4" x 5" contact.

 

Beautiful. One of the few less posed and more fluid photographs in the collection, shot on location.

 

Image No. 523-8. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Later photographs such as this have more overt homosexual overtones. Backdrop of projected Italian style waterfront (steps, canvas umbrellas). 2 smooth men, one older, one younger, posing pouches, one held down by the other wearing a sailors cap. Pinned by wrists. Younger man underneath has head turned towards camera, eyes closed in a submissive attitude, very passive. Man on top looking down at his face. The man has power over him.

Image No. 523-9. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Same men, looking at each other, smiling, sitting side by side. Young man underneath in last photo has his arm around his "buddy," both wearing sailors hats. At least 2-3 or possibly 4 lighting sources in this shot because of the shadows at different angles - strong and fill lighting.

Image No. 523-10. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Younger man underneath now face down being hog-tied with the other guy kneeling on his back but upright, showing off his body, over him whilst using rope to tie him up. Good tonality to print, probably 4" x 5" contact? Older guy much bigger than younger guy.

Image No. 523-139. Bob Mizer. 27/09/1951.

Image of bodybuilder in white trunks looking down about to lift weights. Guy crouched down over weights on tiled floor. Huge negative black space around him.

Image No. 523-140. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Muscular mesomorph. Big legs, arms, chest, smile, everything!! Posing in black trunks with arms in S shape, fists clenched. Big negative black space around him.

 

Like the idea of using this large expanse of negative space above models in my own work. Some of his nude and posing pouch models have dirty feet. Walking around outside or on dirty studio floors.

 

Image No. 523-431. Bob Mizer. 28/10/1951.

Two young men with dark hair in posing pouches walking along a train track, one on each rail, holding hands/supporting each other across the tracks. Tanned, built, abs, lats, lovers? Mountains and hills in the background.

 

X. PHYSIQUE CULTURE AND EARLY HOMOSEXUAL MAGAZINES

 

1. Tomorrow's Man. Irving Johnson Health, 1952.

2. Body Beautiful. Montreal: Weider Publishing, 1955.

3. Adonis. Montreal: Weider Publishing, 1955.

4. Your Physique. Vol.1, No.1. Montreal: Joe Weider, August, 1940.

The first issue is really crude. Headings are hand done and filled in like kids graffiti. Typed content is on A4 pages. Hand drawings also. Only the cover uses magazine paper and it has a photograph printed on it. Cost 15c. The second issue is in a smaller format but is printed all on magazine paper and properly printed. Much more professional. Later editions are back to A4 size.

5. Vim - for Vigorous Living. Vol.1, No.1. Chicago: Victory Printing and Publishing Co., May 1954.

Small magazine about 5" wide x 7" high.

6. The Greyhuff Review. 1st Edition. Minneapolis, Minn: Directory Services Inc., 1965.

Homosexual magazine. Pictures of lithe, nude young men, articles, cartoons, social comment. "What is Obscenity?" "Discovery: Can a Young Man in a Small Country Town Find Happiness in the Great Big City?" "Is Punishment the Answer? Is There an Effective Way to Eliminate Homosexuality?" "The Public is Watching."

2nd Edition Quotation:

"The beginning of wisdom is the realization that there are other points of view than my own. Understanding those points of view is the next step. The final test of wisdom is understanding why those points of view are held."

7. Der Neue Ring. No.1. Hamburg/Amsterdam: Gerhard Presha, November 1957.

Homosexual magazine.

8. Butch. Issue No. 1. Minneapolis, Minn: DSI Sales, 1965.

Homosexual magazine. Small 5" wide x 9" high 'art' magazine including nude posing.

9. Der Kries. No.1. Zurich: No Publisher, January, 1952.

Homosexual magazine. Typical photographs of the era in this magazine. No frontal nudity even up to the later 1965 editions. Lithe young men, drawings and articles, including one on the Kinsey Report in the 1952 first edition (pp.6-7). Some of the photographs in Der Kries of young European men are similar to German naturist movement photographs (Cat. No. 52423 - Oct, Nov, Dec 1949. Cat. No. 52452 - May, June 1949 showing 5 nude boys outdoors throwing medicine ball in the air with their arms upraised).
Also some photographs are similar to von Gloeden's Italian peasants (Cat. No. 52424 - July 1952. Cat. No. 52425 - August 1960. Cat. No. 52426 - May, Oct 1956: all 4 photographs).
The 1949 photographs are possibly taken from earlier German magazines anyway? Discus, javelin, archer, and shot putter images. Mainly nudes. George Platt Lynes contributed to the magazine under the pseudonym Roberto Rolf.